Challenging assumptions about the history and performance of the business corporation in the United States, this book seeks to explain more fully this crucial institution of capitalism. The authors draw on theoretical insights from economics, law, political science, and cultural studies to show the multiple ways in which corporations have shaped American society, culture, and politics over the past two centuries. They reject assertions that the corporation is dead and show that it in fact has survived, and even thrived by adapting to changes in its politics, social, and cultural environment. They call into question narrow economic theories of the firm, and show instead that the corporation must be treated as a more fully social institution, pointing the way to a new periodization of corporate history and a new set of questions for scholars to explore. Key issues engaged include the legal and political position of the corporations, ways in which the corporation has shaped and been shaped by American culture, controversies over corporate regulation and corporate power, and the efforts of minority and disadvantaged groups to gain access to corporate resources and opportunities.